I was struck this week by an article on Devex highlighting how the popular narrative about Africa’s growth is being challenged. The article points out that, despite national-level economic growth in many African countries, the benefits of that growth are failing to trickle down sufficiently; when two in five Africans surveyed say that they are unable to meet their basic needs and are food insecure, such a conclusion is hard to argue with.
What do you learn when you ask people about their personal experiences with international assistance efforts and make a genuine effort to listen to their answers? What do they say when you ask which approaches have been most effective and which not? What does that tell us about how things should change? I read “Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid” and found answers to these questions.
Researchers, development practitioners and policy makers recognise that efforts during the 1970’s and 80’s to develop new high yielding hybrid seeds and transfer them to farmers played an important part in removing the spectre of widespread starvation, especially in Asia. This, combined with the introduction of fertiliser and efforts to develop markets, also ushered in a period of cheap and relatively stable prices for the world’s staple crops and brought millions of farmers out of poverty. Aptly named The Green Revolution this undoubted success deserves celebration.